House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is launching a civil lawsuit against Attorney General Eric Holder for his involvement in withholding information on Operation Fast and Furious.
???President Obama exceeded his authority by asserting executive privilege over subpoenaed documents related to the Justice Department???s cover-up of Operation Fast and Furious,??? Issa said in a statement.
Operation Fast and Furious was a federal gunrunning operation that led to the release and loss of thousands of firearms in Mexico. One of those guns was used by criminals in the U.S. to shoot and kill border patrol agent Brian Terry.
The family of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, whistleblowers who faced retaliation for exposing the Justice Department???s reckless tactics, and the public [has] a right to know the full extent of what occurred,??? Issa said.
Holder has been holding onto tens of thousands of documents that Issa and other Congressional Republicans have requested to see.
The lawsuit explains how dangerous the use of ???Executive privilege??? in this manner is to the sanctity of the Constitution and to Congress???s ability to conduct investigations and oversight. The issue at stake does not deal with a matter of national defense or the president???s core Constitutional powers, but is a criminal matter according to the subpoena.
The lawsuit described each attempt by Congress to get more information pertaining to Fast and Furious and how it has had to continually fight with the Justice Department for every scrap of information.
???Today, nearly ten months after the return date for the Holder Subpoena, the Attorney General has produced, in response, only approximately 4,000 pages of documents,??? the lawsuit said.
One of the reasons that a civil case is the better option for congressmen going after Holder is that it avoids the potential problem of the case being prosecuted by the District Attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald Machen. Machen is officially a member of the Justice Department and serves under Holder.
If Holder loses the case in a trial he will either have to turn over the documents or appeal the case.
This action takes place just days after one of the Operation Fast and Furious whistleblowers, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agent Peter Forcelli, reached an agreement with the ATF over retaliation claims. The threads of Operation Fast and Furious have taken a long time to tangle and may take even longer to untangle in court.